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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thoughts from the Past – IN Affliction

Here is a short thought that I first posted on my old blog, and then moved here in Sept. 2011.  It is edited.

March 26, 2006

IN Affliction

Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

Notice that the Psalmist here does not say he is comforted from his affliction, but rather in it. He is not looking for deliverance from affliction, but he has comfort in it from God's word.

People too often mistakenly think that we will "live happily ever after" as Christians. This false teaching has been around for a long time. It was promoted in the 1950s, and later, in various Christian songs (and maybe in preaching), and it is seen today in some of the "prosperity gospel" groups and "living your best life now" preachers. We are never promised "the good life" or a "happily ever after" in this present world.  In fact, we read in 2 Timothy 3:12, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. And also, Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

What we do have is comfort in afflictions. We have the word of God which quickens us and gives us confidence that the Lord is in control. We have the promise that the God of all comfort will work all things together for good to them that love Him.

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

This is our comfort IN affliction, not our escape from it. And, notice that God comforts us in our tribulations for the purpose that we may comfort others also. So, our affliction is not a waste of time. It inclines us be more cast upon the Lord, to look forward to the next life, and it also allows us to partake of His comfort which He wants us to minister to others. Thus, every saint who has been through the furnace of affliction has been entrusted with a ministry to pass on God's comfort to others.

No wonder Paul could say, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Evening Song – A Crown to Cast

The John Marshall Family.

Revelation 4:10-11  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sew Happy Friday - A Potholder Made From Scraps

Photo property of Faith and Fresh Lemons.

Here are the instructions for making some cute potholders with your scraps.  Thanks to Faith at Fresh Lemons for showing us how!

Scrapbuster - Potholder Tutorial

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Letter to My Readers

Psalms 103:13-17  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.  But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him...

Dear readers,

First of all, let me say that I really appreciate all of you who regularly, or semi-regularly, come to read this blog.  I appreciate those who just drop in at random and don't come back, but it's the return readers that keep this blog going and remind me that I need to keep striving to produce useful content.

The Lord has seen fit to allow us to go through some trials this year that are making a fair amount of stress.

- My husband's family is facing an impending death after having lost a family member last year unexpectedly.  Thankfully, the dear one who is standing with her feet on the edge of eternity is born again, but it is still sad to watch the process of death and the grief of the family.

- I'm having a health-related issue that may or may not have a serious cause, but various tests will more than likely be involved.  Also some of my "usual" health issues have been flaring up of late, including the SAD, and my husband has had some struggles as well.

- Our winter has been abnormally warm and dry - this may not be a serious problem, but some of us have really missed the break from the warm weather that we usually get, and lack of rain is always bothersome here.  (We actually had a "red flag" warning one day this month - that means high fire danger, for those who don't know.)

- Then too, some of my family who have been living here for a couple years are moving back "from whence they came."  (This is not my parents or my brother and sister-in-law whom I mention from time to time.  Thankfully, they are all staying here.)

- There are also two other big changes going on - one will affect our neighborhood, and one will affect our church.

There are also some extra projects as well as the usual ones and, of course, some things that I am not free to mention here as well.

Obviously, we'd appreciate prayer if you feel so led.

All this to say, I am trying to schedule some blog posts ahead so that I can take a break from blogging for awhile.  I don't know what all will be happening in the next weeks or months, but I think it would be a good idea to pare down the extras for awhile and focus on the things that are immediately important in my little world.  I hope you will understand if you make a comment and it isn't answered right away, or if you find the blog posts are not as frequent, or if you miss me from the link-up parties (which I may or may not do).  You will also more than likely be seeing more "re-runs" from the early days of the blog.

Besides taking a break from blogging, I am hoping to reevaluate some things and hopefully determine what are the most important aspects of this blog and The Home Maker's Corner. Sometimes it is hard to determine which are the important things that the Lord wants me to be addressing and what I should leave to others who are already writing on those topics.

It's kind of curious to me because I'd been thinking recently how life has been fairly good in a lot of ways of late, but I felt like I hadn't been leaning on the Lord as much as I should.  And, now all of the sudden there are all these things; more than one of them came up quite unexpectedly.  In different ways they all are pushing me toward the Lord, which is where I want to be.

Psalms 25:17-18  The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.  

Psalms 119:49-50  Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

Thanks again for your faithful readership.  I trust I will be back to "regular operations" as soon as it is possible.  :-)

Because Jesus loves you,
Mary Stephens

P.S.  I'm hoping to introduce some new and fun things later this year, Lord willing.  :-)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

God's Voice - A Poem by Martha Snell Nicholson


God calls to us from earthquake crash
And from the dewy dawn.
The voice of every breeze is His,
And when the day is done,

And sunset glories fade away,
And moon and stars ride high
In silver light, He mightily speaks
From out the spangled sky.

He speaks thus to my eyes and ears;
And yet my spirit longs
For words more intimate and dear
Than all the night sky's songs

I thank God that there is a Word
Delivered long ago;
A word most definite and sure
Which I may read and know

His saving grace, His keeping power,
His plan for me, His will,
His glory and His majesty . . .
My heart is hushed and still

With wonder and with thankfulness:
The Lord of earth and sky
Has leaned down from His heavenly throne
To speak to such as I!

Martha Snell Nicholson

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

1 Peter 1:25  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Ephesians 6:17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Evening Song - Be Thou My Vision

Proverbs 29:18  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

John 12:20-21  And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

Acts 7:55-56  But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

God’s Understanding

[Originally published June 2010. Edited]

I’ve had trouble lately worrying about various things that “may” happen at some point in the far or not far future. Many of us, especially women, seem to have a natural tendency to worry and fret over things, but for those of us who suffer from anxiety disorders it can become a huge burden and threaten our ability to live a normal life.

A couple weeks ago when I opened my Bible for my breakfast reading I flipped to a “random” Psalm. My “hap was to light” upon Psalm 147 which is a great Psalm to remind us of how God cares for His creation and that all things are upheld by the word of His power (Heb. 1). But, in my reading the Lord pointed out verse five to me for my special need.

Ps 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

What a comfort that was and is! It is and should be a real comfort to know that our Lord understands infinitely, and that means He understands far, far better than we ever could.

That means He understand what we need better than we do. Php 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

He understands how much we can bear better than we do. Ps 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

He understands our weaknesses better than we do. 2 Cor. 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…

He also is understanding in an infinite way – something that no human ever can be even when they love us. It is a tremendous blessing, and humbling, to know that God understands me and my struggles to such a degree, and that He is so understanding of them! How often we feel misunderstood in this life. How wonderful to know that God never misunderstands us! Indeed, He understands us better than we do ourselves, and yet He loves us still. An amazing thought!

All this points to another great fact – we can trust God with the future! He is already there and He knows and He will see us through whatever it is. He knows what we will need when we will need it, and He is of great power to meet those needs! His understanding is infinite!

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Just for Fun - The Roller Coaster Ride In Airports

Something fun and different today.  Here are two videos showing the journey of luggage through two large airports.  Did you know your luggage was going on such an exciting roller coaster ride while you languished in the seating areas? :-)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Worth Reading - Links from January 2016

East African mother washing her baby.  Taken by my grandparents circa 1950.  I love this picture.

There are way too many things of interest to read on the internet.  Since I can't possibly write about everything that seems important or really useful, it seemed like it might be a good idea to share some links once in awhile.  It may be a monthly thing, or it may not be.  The subjects will likely be quite varied as I'm a pretty diverse reader in some ways.  Please keep in mind that just because I use a link from a specific site or author it does not mean that I necessarily approve all their writings or of them personally.  And, as always, I disclaim other versions of the Bible which may say things very differently from the one I use - the KJV.  (I am shocked sometimes at the changes some versions make, but that's a subject for another time.)

Here are a selection of articles and blog posts that I found of particular interest during January.

When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense - Most Recommended. Written by a woman who supported abortion during the days of Roe v. Wade.  If you don't read anything else, I recommend you read this one.  It is long, but it is worth it.

This "other" element to the abortion issue has bothered me for some time - women and girls who feel they have no choice about having an abortion because everyone around them expects and demands it.  Obviously, I don't agree with all of the author's views, but she makes some very important points.  Let's not neglect the heart of the mother while we focus on the live of the child.  Both are important in the economy of God.  There is a greater tragedy than just babies dying in the womb - and that is that many women and girls feel they have no other option than to kill their child.  Friends, in case you are not aware, this horror has been going on in various cultures for thousands of years, whether in the fires of Molech; as human sacrifices in ancient Europe and elsewhere; infanticide practiced because of poverty, greed, and superstition (something with us to this day in parts of the world); or for other reasons.  It is always the women and the children who suffer the most, and we must never forget both parties in the abortion issue!  As Christians we need to see all the suffering people, not just the ones we want to see or the ones that fit our political agenda.  James 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.


16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia -  Highly Recommended.  This was a thought-provoking list.  My husband and I are at the point in life where we have to acknowledge that our parents are "getting up there" in age.  I liked the positive approach of this, and it reminded me that sometimes the best thing we can do for someone we love is just make them as happy and comfortable as possible and not worry too much about all the "losses."


2016 Reading Challenge - Here is a link to a reading challenge for 2016.  This is the simple PDF version.  It is divided up into various levels of reading, but it isn't necessary to follow his "plan" at all.  I have printed a copy for myself, but in all honesty, I don't intend to use "as directed." ;-)  I will just use it as a point of reference and inspiration for my book choices.  It seemed like a good idea to expand my reading or make choices in a more structured manner, so I'm going to give it a go and see how I like it.  Let me know if you find it useful.


Forcing home-educated children into schools for child protection won't work - and it's not the job of teachers anyway.  This particular article is from a British viewpoint, but I appreciated that this public school official brought out the points that the media is irresponsible in their reporting and that the public schools are not blamed when children are abused who attend them.  While I am very concerned about some of the abuse cases that have been exposed in the U.S., I think we need to be clear in realizing that homeschooling is attractive to some people who are already abusers.  It does not follow that when people homeschool they become abusers.

I do think that the church and homeschool community needs to show some responsibility regarding homeschooled kids, however.  When it appears that something is wrong, it needs to be checked out.  Child Protection Services have such a bad reputation in some Christians' minds (and not without just cause!), that they have failed in a number of cases to report legitimate abuse where they knew it was going on.  This ought not to be!  We need to exercise some common sense in these matters.  My experience partially growing up in the homeschooling community (8th-post high school) tells me that if you make an effort to acquaint yourself with homeschooling families you can tell which ones are "strange" and which ones are pretty normal, well-adjusted folks.  This might make someone mad - that I would even suggest there could be issues with how some families socialize - but I have seen it myself, where some family cuts off all, or almost all, interaction with other people.  I have also experienced a normal socialization within the homeschool context, and I know there are people who obviously are "fringe" in their thinking and behavior.  Someone needs to make the effort to get to know them and notice what is going on with the kids.  (I didn't say "report them."  But, if something criminal is going on, we are morally obligated to make that choice.  Abusing children is contrary to scripture and illegal in most places where my readers live.)  Luke 17:1-2  Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

BUT - it is totally unfair to assume that all homeschoolers are hiding abuse and/or require close government supervision just because they homeschool!


In the Kitchen - Dishes - This is a short post reminding us that we shouldn't have a bunch of dishes that we don't need, love, and use.  It made me think - I need to go through my dish cupboard and china cabinet!


The Adventures of Shadow the Kayak Cat:  Timberland, A New Habit.  And just for fun - Here is a post from my sister-in-law's blog about their cat Shadow who loves to go kayaking with them. :-)


Well, that's all for this post.  I think this is quite enough for a first time.  :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Thoughts from the Past – The Whole Armor of God


Nov. 16, 2005
Whose armor are we wearing?

Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

We are supposed to take the armour of God. It crossed my mind in thinking of that how many different man-made armors Christians try to use instead of taking that of God's own making.
Instead of ...having your loins girt about with truth..., they are often girt about with the traditions of man - a useless support that feels good but adds no strength.

Instead of ...having on the breastplate of righteousness..., it is too often the breastplate of self-righteousness and selfish good works designed to "earn" salvation or indulgences from God (which are both impossible). (Hosea 10:1 Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself... )

Instead of ...your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace..., it is the preparation of the gospel of church attendance and "getting more people out" ("nickels and nose and butt every 18 inches" as they used to describe it in pro-wrestling).

Instead of ...taking the shield of faith..., it is the shield of church membership. Where "going to church" keeps you out of trouble and protects you from those who judge "rightness with God" upon church membership and attendance. (It doesn't protect from the fiery darts of the wicked, though.)

Instead of taking ...the helmet of salvation..., the helmet of philosophy and vain deceit is taken (Col. 2:8). Man's reasoning answers the questions of life instead of the sound mind (1 Tim. 1:7) of a sure salvation. God's salvation protects and secures the head which then governs the whole body so that the salvation is lived out in daily obedience. Man's philosophy leaves the mind unprotected and even vulnerable to injury.

Instead of ...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God..., the butter knife of human scholarship is taken - a useless weapon that only causes doubt and defeat before the enemies of the Lord.

Can you think of more substitutes people use instead of God's armour?

Is it any wonder that so many Christians are losing the battle? Let us Put on the whole armour of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

Post Script - Please notice that it is a command to take the whole armour of God. If we choose not to obey this command, we do not have the armour on. It is not automatically put on us. We must take it. For those struggling with especially hard things, may I suggest that you start each day by reading through this list in Ephesians 6 and "putting on" God's armour in prayer? I did this myself when I was suffering from acute anxiety, and I know others who have done this for other reasons, and it is a great help in the battle! God keeps His word!

[Republished from 2011.]

Friday, February 5, 2016

Card Making: The Edible Cookie Card

Since my dad's birthday is this coming up I thought it would be fun to share a card my mom made for him some years back.

Mom and I made Dark Pfeffernusse for my dad for his birthday that year.  It is his favorite cookie of all time.  It is also connected with his Mennonite background, so it has fond memories for him as well. While we were making them, somehow the idea came up that Mom should make letters to spell "I love you!" to make him a special "greeting card."  :-)  We baked them and they were stored at my house so that Daddy wouldn't stumble across them before his birthday.

You might be able to do this with peanut butter cookie dough, but it needs to be something that doesn't rise or spread a lot while baking.

To make the card, we covered a piece of sturdy cardboard with foil and then Mom "glued" the cookies to it with some plain white icing.

I made a little card for her to add using one of my own designs made on the computer (with one of my own photos), and she added a card with her signature.

As you can see from this picture, my dad quite liked his card.  Who wouldn't like an edible birthday card made with one's favorite cookies?  Haha!  :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Monthly Challenge - February 2016

Children in a Spring Forest with Anemones in Bloom by Hans Andersen Brendekilde

Time for our February challenge.  I can't believe that January is over already.  We've had a very mild winter and February signals the start of early spring in Central Texas, so there isn't much time left for real winter weather here.  (I've already seen butterflies!)

How did you do with the January challenge?  I was really happy that I was able to get them both done, especially since I completely dropped the program in December and still haven't accomplished those challenges! (Ack.  We did have plans to take some friends out to eat, but it fell through, and I just never made the phone call I intended to make.  I know.  I really flubbed on that one!)

This month we're going to to keep it fairly simple because it's a short month.



Take a walk with a friend or pet.


Watch a favorite uplifting movie or documentary with someone you love.


This challenge should provide opportunities for everyone - those in climates that are pleasant or warm now, and those who are maybe buried in snow. :-)

I included walking with a pet because the reality of life is that there are some people who don't have many options for walking with friends.  I know that might seem strange to some of you, but it's a sad truth, and a sad commentary, on our world today.  Maybe you can think of someone of your acquaintance who may be feeling lonely that you could go walk with this month.  Sometimes single people and the elderly don't have friends with whom they can walk.

Watching something uplifting just makes sense.  Winter is still here in the northern hemisphere and in some places, even where there isn't snow, it may not be pleasant to be outside some days.  In the southern hemisphere it may be too warm to walk outside in places.  But, anyone who is reading this online should have the means to watch something uplifting - hopefully, with someone you love. :-)